The Secret to Creating a Safer Construction Site

The instinct to be safe is a primal one. Humans and animals are equipped with the fight or flight response to react to external threats. Beyond what is instinctively available to us, there are many devices and items to keep everyone protected from any dangers, risks, or injuries. Today technology is available to improve safety and provide peace of mind.

In construction, being safe is critical. There are many hazards on the jobsite that can result in serious injury or death. To help, technology solutions improve the safety at the jobsite.

Know Your Options

In order to best leverage safety technology, construction companies must first identify what needs to change and then determine the best technology solution. Human error is a big safety issue.

Denis Branthonne, CEO, Novade Solutions, says, “Technology may not be able to erase human error entirely, but can help predict and prevent accidents from happening on site. When construction site data is compiled digitally, in real-time, this information can be used by companies to refine their safety practices and adjust their methodologies in ways that will ensure safety across all projects.”

Overall, the amounts of safety issues that can pop up at the jobsite are endless—and they all need to be addressed, and often technology can be the solution to help address them.

Lorrin Blair, construction engineer and field technology consultant, PlanGrid, says, “Ultimately there is room for technology to help address any and all safety issues. One safety issue can’t really be prioritized over another. Everyone wants to go home safely, every single day. With that in mind, implementing smart field technologies can provide teams the ability to use collaborative technology in the best ways that suits them. Whether a contractor spends most of their time below ground, working trenches and excavations, or in the air hanging steel, there is always room for technology to help field teams do their jobs in the safest manner possible.”

Recently, there have been many emerging technologies that can increase safety on site. Innovative tools such as wearables, smart materials, and others are new developments for the construction industry. Internet and data is also becoming more available, even on remote sites, so teams can be in constant communication.

Branthonne adds, “The big game-changer for construction is likely something most people already have: a smartphone. Phones are portable and easy-to-use, require no special training, and are easier for workers to adapt on-site than unfamiliar technology. For example, a phone could be used to track movement of the user. If the user is in a dangerous area, and no movement is detected for a certain amount of time, the device can send an alert to the team. This is one example of new technologies and capabilities working together to improve site safety.”

By increasing communication across all parties on a jobsite, technology allows teams to build a safety culture centered on real-time collaboration. Blair says that using construction productivity software that allows contractors and owners to collaborate easily from their mobile devices and desktop allows everyone to be safer at the jobsite.

The ways that the technology can assist with safety provide numerous benefits for the industry. Branthonne says, “Mobile technology can help speed up site processes. This means that activities and permits that usually require a lot of paperwork become digitized and are processed more quickly. Take non-conformance reports, for instance: when a worker needs to report something on site that is not conforming to safety standards, this report is registered more quickly when submitted digitally. Photos could even be taken of the issue on the spot with a phone, and preventive measures can go into effect much faster. This can go a long way into preventing serious accidents on any project.”

Streamlining processes with technology can improve safety. Field supervisors can review construction blueprints and outline the required safety measures for any given phase of work, or task at hand. Field crews can have immediate access to the safety details and requirements concerning that task.

Blair says, “It can also help teams to collect vital safety data from their jobsites, in order to understand trends and better address safety concerns. Through digitized forms, crews can provide near-miss information back to their safety management teams, and trends can be developed from exported data. Should an incident occur, safety reports can be completed and submitted in the field. Utilizing power field technology helps to instill confidence in field teams, giving everyone the information they need to do their jobs safely. Incredible amounts of time can be saved and the perceived burden of safety reporting and compliance can be lifted.”

Uncovering Safety Secrets

In order to have a safe jobsite, contractors need to be transparent with the policies, procedures, and technology that are being used to keep everyone safe.

Branthonne explains, “Enforcing high safety standards means not only setting certain practices, but also empowering team members on-site with the know-how and the ability to maintain these standards efficiently. Technology will always be working to make sites safer, but that human element will never go away entirely. When anyone on site is able to bring attention to a potential safety issue, and that issue can be rectified quickly and easily, everyone benefits. Technology can always present us with useful and relevant data, but it’s up to the people to decide how to act on this information.”

The secret to creating a better jobsite is to ensure that there are no secrets where safety is concerned. That really comes down to building an open and honest safety culture.

Blair adds, “Employees should always feel comfortable asking questions and escalating any concerns they might have about jobsite safety. It’s also ensuring that every single person on a jobsite feels empowered, knowing that they have the right information on hand to do their job safely. Lastly, it’s making safety personal when every employee on site understands that they have just as much responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe.”

As the industry moves towards more technological innovation, the possibilities for safety improvements will only grow.

Posted: 11/14/2017 2:17:04 PM



Related Articles